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J Immunol. 2003 Sep 15;171(6):3025-33.

Differential recognition of altered peptide ligands distinguishes two functionally discordant (arthritogenic and nonarthritogenic) autoreactive T cell hybridoma clones.

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Section of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.


Intravenous injection of a cartilage proteoglycan (aggrecan)-specific Th1 hybridoma clone 5/4E8 induced joint lesions similar to those seen in either primary or adoptively transferred arthritis in BALB/c mice. A sister clone, TA20, recognizing the same peptide epitope of human aggrecan and using the same Vbeta4 and Valpha1 segments, failed to induce joint inflammation. This study examines the fine epitope specificities of these two clones. Both 5/4E8 and TA20 hybridomas were generated using T cells from the same arthritic animal that has been immunized with human aggrecan, and both clones recognized peptides containing a consensus GRVRVNSAY sequence. However, flanking regions outside this nonapeptide sequence region had differential impact on peptide recognition by the two clones. Similarly, when single amino acid substitutions were introduced to the consensus sequence, significant differences were detected in the epitope recognition patterns of the T cell hybridomas. The 5/4E8 hybridoma showed greater flexibility in recognition, including a higher responsiveness to the corresponding self (mouse) aggrecan peptide, and produced more inflammatory cytokines (IFN-gamma and TNF-alpha), whereas hybridoma TA20 produced IL-5 in response to either human or mouse self peptide stimulation. These results demonstrate that, within the pool of immunodominant (foreign) peptide-activated lymphocytes, marked individual differences of degeneracy exist in T cell recognition, with possible implications to autopathogenic T cell functions.

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